[tlhIngan Hol] Meaning of *ghaytanHa'*

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Thu Sep 16 06:11:32 PDT 2021

To be honest, when I see {ghaytanHa’ QapDI’ SuvtaH}, I read it as “It’s unlikely that he continues fighting when he wins.” In other words, he fights, then he wins, then he stops fighting.

That seems pretty normal. In the name of honor, most of us stop fighting when we win, except perhaps to go off and fight someone else somewhere else. We fight to win. We don’t fight to continue beating up the vanquished.

For your intended initial meaning, I’d say something more like {Qap’a’? SaHbe’. SuvtaH.} "Will he win? He doesn’t care. He’s always fighting."

Remember that in Klingon, it is unnecessary to pack too much meaning into one sentence if it can be more clearly said broken out into multiple sentences, strung together by the thread of the story; the context shared by all the sentences.

English has more grammatical tools to pack a larger collection of meanings into a single sentence. You create unnecessary problems when you try to make any single English sentence a Klingon sentence regardless of its complexity out of a false sense that translation implies preserving both the grammar and the sentence boundaries of the original.

Meanwhile, when you try to say, “He wins although it was unlikely,” you stumble into a void of support in Klingon grammar. Linguists call this “irrealis”. You are describing a hypothetical world different from this one. In this world, he won. In this other world, he wouldn’t have won.

This might possibly be a cultural issue in Klingon. He won. Done. Get over any idea about him not winning. We don’t care about that. It doesn’t matter how unlikely it would have been that he won if he won.

If you want to say this, anyway, you have to get somewhat creative and literal. {not QaplaH net pIH, ‘ach reH SuvqangtaH.} “One expects that he can never win, but he is always willing to fight."


charghwI’ ‘utlh
(ghaH, ghaH, -Daj)

> On Sep 16, 2021, at 6:13 AM, luis.chaparro at web.de wrote:
> In PB we read the sentence: *ghaytanHa' QapDI' SuvtaH*. The literal meaning is something like *When it was unlikely that he would win, he still fought* (I hope my English is here right!). Is always the meaning of *ghaytanHa' Qap* *it's unlikely that he will win*, or is it also possible to interpret it as *he wins in an unlikely manner*, i.e., *he wins although it was unlikely*. And if not, how could this meaning be rendered?
> Thank you!
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